Bone Density Analysis

Whilst the same DEXA scanner is used for measuring bone density and body composition, they are very different types of scan.
A bone density scan measures the amount of bone mineral content in certain areas of the body. In general, the more dense the bone, the stronger it is, and the less likely it is to break. Your bone mineral density (BMD) is then compared with reference standards to determine if you are at risk for fractures. Low bone density is usually caused by osteoporosis resulting in reduced bone strength or “brittle bones.” Your bones are usually at their densest when you are about 30 years of age.

Who should have a bone density scan?

If you are at increased risk of osteoporosis, a bone density scan may be advised.
Below are some examples of common risk indicators:

  • A fracture following a minor fall or injury.
  • Loss of height due to fracture of a vertebra (back bone).
  • Having taken steroid tablets for three months or more.
  • Had early menopause (aged less than 45).
  • A family history of osteoporosis.
  • A body mass index of less than 19. (That is, if you are very underweight).
  • Other disorders associated with osteoporosis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or coeliac disease.

Your scan results are given in the form of a T-score.
This is where your scan results are compared to peak bone mass, which is the normal bone density found in healthy people aged between 23 and 35.
A Z-score is also calculated by comparing your results to the bone density of people of your own age.
However, osteoporosis will be clinically diagnosed based on your T-score.

You will require a referral from your GP and the results will be sent to them.
Your GP will use the information in the bone density scan to decide if treatment for low bone mineral content or osteoporosis is necessary.